With the most liked and viewed YouTube video of all time, a string of products including a brand of drinks, mens skin care and a series of comic books, Psy from the viral music hit Gangnam Style is certainly the biggest star of the 2013.
With fans around the world and his latest song, Gentlemen, also receiving millions of views, the Korean star is just about to embark on a world tour that will see him travel the globe. A grueling schedule of screaming fans, late nights, private jets, lush five-star treatment and of course, lots of 'sexy ladies'.
Throughout all the spoiled bonuses of being a superstar on tour, Psy, who is known for his love of food, will take along a personal chef. A job that pays $40,000 a month and a job that FDL reader Ricardo Caput has successfully received.
Ricardo Left, Psy Right
We wrote about Psy's search for a chef back in April 2013 and Ricardo contacted FDL to say he had progressed through the early stages. Since then, we kept in touch with the Brazilian born chef while he slowly made his way through the application process. A few weeks ago we were very excited to hear the news that he had got the job.
12-months traveling the world with one of the biggest music stars of the 21st century, a boss who is known for having an inhuman tolerance to alcohol and a boss whose name is short for Psycho. It's not your regular chef job and it's certainly not what Ricardo ever expected when he started his culinary career. From his new base in Korea FDL caught up with the new Gangnam style chef to find out more about this exciting culinary adventure.
What did the application process involve?
To get here in Korea I had first to create a video that showed off a blend of music, dance and food. The best videos were then chosen to go through to the next stage. After the first stage of uploading my video, being accepted and asking all of my friends and family to vote for my video, I went through several interviews with Psy's staff and a personal visit from one of his staff. They came for dinner at the restaurant where I was working. Only after all this did Psy finally make the announcement that I was the winning candidate.
I think he will like the seasoning of my dishes, so far I’ve learnt Korean food is heavy on garlic and spice - similar to the Brazilian foods I am used to eating.
Tell us about your culinary career?
I'm a 30-year-old Brazilian chef from Minas Gerais, one of the most respected Brazilian states for gastronomy. I actually started my degree in Law school but dropped out half away though as I didn’t feel I could live a life as a lawyer.
From here I went to England in 2004 and had my first experience in a restaurant kitchen. In 2005 I was back in Brazil and I decided to go to a chef school. Early in 2007 I finally received my chef certificate and I got a job at Costa Cruise Ships where I learnt lots about Italian food working alongside many Italian chefs. I really started to appreciate how Southern and Northern Italian chefs manage to execute the same recipe while keeping their own unique peculiarities.
In 2009 I moved to New Zealand where I continued to learn new cooking skills in a number of different venues. I worked in New Zealand until 2012 when I finally went back to Brazil to run my own kitchen for the first time. It's a gourmet pub called Obardo and has allowed me to work on defining my style which combines my strongest influence of Brazilian food with European bases and some Asian flavors (something that will increase with my time spent in Korea with Psy)
What dish did you cook for the competition?
I was very confident throughout the process because I created a very colorful salad that I thought was good. It had many different textures: dehydrated salmon, passion fruit, olive oil emulsion, edible flowers, everything I could find to show the diversity and color of Brazilian ingredients.
For the final stage I had to create an original dish using some Korean ingredients. I’ve created two. A Korean style mushroom risotto surrounded by yam soup. And a marinated pork chop, chili paste, sprouts on soy sauce and chard salad.
What are you doing now?
Right now I’m doing my training in Seoul and waiting for further information about the tour. Next week Ill fly to Los Angeles to start working but so far this is really all I know. At first it's just a 1-month contract for $40,000.
I wanted to be here in Korea, as much I want to be in US, it’s my first time in both countries. And as a chef I'm very excited about learning more about the traditions of Korean food
So far I haven’t had any direct contact with Psy but this will happen next week in LA. I know his really into Korean food and that one of his favorite dishes is fried chicken.
What was the hardest part of the process?
The hardest part of the contest was to keep up my schedule with my work at my restaurant, interviews to many journalists and TV shows, also the long hours on the internet asking for votes - I also had to remember to spend time with my girlfriend.
What would you cook for Psy if he had a bad gig and was sad?
If he were sad I'd cook him some really crunchy chicken bites with hot sauce.
What if he was tired and needed energy?
I'd go for a nice Italian home made pasta to give him some energy.
What if he turned to you with a sore throat and croaky voice and said: "grhhhmmmhrh"?
For a sore throat I'd have to cook him a lovely onion soup but then I'd add a touch of ginger and lemon zest to help heal the throat.
What have friends and family said?
My family and friends gave me amazing support from the beginning and I was actually feeling a lot of pressure to not disappoint them. When I found out I had won, it was huge, a bit of a relief and the overriding feeling that all the efforts my friends and family made for me paid off. I really was incredibly happy and so was everyone else.
How do you feel?
I'm taking this as the opportunity of a lifetime and really there is nothing I won't enjoy, the discovery of new flavors, styles and ingredients from all over the world is a dream job for any chef.
We're loving Ricardo's dedication to the job and his openess to what is a great opportunity, but, "nothing I won't enjoy?" - can a person really enjoy listening to Gangnam style every night for a year? Stay tuned as we'll be keeping in touch with Ricardo throughout his journey to find out.